October 1953 LIBRARY E-867 STATE PLANT BOARD United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Administration Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine STATUS OF THE IMPORTED FIRE ANT IN THE SOUTHERN STATES IN JULY 1953 By George H. Culpepper Division of Insects Affecting Man and Animals Periodically from September 1949 to July 1953 personnel of the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine conducted surveys relative to the imported fire ant ( Solenopsis saevissima var. richteri Forel). These surveys included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, and were conducted in cooperation with these States. The object of these surveys was to determine the distribution, rela- tive abundance, and rate of spread of the imported fire ant and the damage it caused to agricultural crops. During each survey proper methods and materials for controlling this ant were demonstrated, and new infestations containing only a few colonies were treated. When the work was initiated in 1949, the areas known to be infested by the imported fire ant included 2 counties in western Florida, 8 counties in southwest and south-central Alabama, and 10 counties in southeast and eastern Mississippi, or a total of 20 counties in 3 States. The States of Mississippi and Alabama had previously conducted some surveys on dis- tribution and abundance, and had also investigated methods of control. The initial methods used in surveying proved unsatisfactory. This method consisted in observing lawns, parks, parkways, roadsides, railroad rights-of-ways, airports, pasturelands, and shipping docks, and contacting extension personnel and farmers. Few new infestations were discovered by this method. Then the survey method was changed to include the inspection of nurseries. Emphasis was concentrated on nursery inspection principally because several isolated infestations were found in nurseries far re- moved from the general infestations in southeast Mississippi and south- west Alabama. It was, also, less difficult to inspect nurseries and find mounds during the summer months, when vegetation is high and thick, than it is to observe extensive general areas. Nursery inspection revealed a tremendous increase in the areas infested in the Southeastern States. Infestations have been found in 102 counties and parishes in 10 States. Infestations found in Florida increased 2 - •'' I to 26, and in M m -th i , North Carolii L . • >na, and Texas in areas . known Infe ted. 1 he Initi ras infested by the imported fire ai I on Only a minimum of I .uired for • ol and demon- nection with these St. I'sually a rake, a 3-gallon inklir.. i small amount of emulsifi. ide concen- • all that was necessary. By treating individual mounds ptly . discovered, it is ved that infestations were eradicated in s I counties of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. A brief discussion of the infestation discovered in the various States during these surveys follov,.^. ALABAMA Ii. Alabama the infestation is most severe in the southwest portion of State except in Dallas County; however, localized infestations found in many other sections. In U stations were found in 26 counties as follows: Co'.; "■ Autauga Baldwin Butler .n .lton • iW lh D . El ■■• ih 1 1 i ile i !1 Area Infested Western half Entire county 3 nurseries at Greenville • A i i.iston Southwest corner Southeast portion All except nor • corner \\ i stern portion Nur ' Andalusia All • ■ southeasl We! tern two-thirds Nur 3 nurse I Bin • Auburn N S • ■ • • nn i tin M ■\ • .u.da: • :- • • to he. Light to he : to ' to ' • ■ • ■ 1 ; I to I • 1 to i • : : - 3 - Light ty # Little R I ; ■ n exis la. tation has Co Bak I Du\ I Leon ssau Okaloosa St. Johns S Rosa S< Are • Nursery at Mac* sery and Panama City area sery at Jacksonville Entire county ahassee na Eastern edge Nursery at St. Augustine Entire c< sery at Longwood GEORGIA tional com A: hi Light to he; ; hi to he.. Li ht Li I... ht Li ht Light to he;. ht In Gee .fi-stations were found in 12 counties. iinty .b am l t I I A rea I: 2 nurseries N • Cochr Nurs \ 2 nil t Bail • I A ■ • ■ ■ I A th< I A bund hi ht Lu I I I 5 - LOUISIANA In Louisiana the coastal parishes and the southern part of the State are the most heavily infested sections. In central and north Louisiana only light infestations were found. Parish Area Infested Abundance Caddo East Baton Rouge Iberia Jefferson Lafayette Orleans Ouachita Plaquemines Pointe Coupee Rapides St. Bernard St. John the Baptist St. Landry St. Martin St. Tammany Vermilion Washington 2 nurseries at Shreveport West portion New Iberia-Delcambre area m Entire parish Nursery at Lafayette and south portion Entire parish Nursery at Monroe North portion 1 nursery 2 nurseries near Lecompte West portion 1 nursery Sunset-Opelousas area South portion Lacombe-Folsom area Delcambre-Abbeville area Bogalusa-Franklinton area Light to heavy Light to heavy Light to heavy Light Light Light to heavy Light Light to heavy Light Light Light to heavy Light Heavy Light Light to heavy Light to heavy Light to heavy he sol : '• ■ . ■ • [nf i ties . nty I st Geo: k rison II ..-ids -.son Jones per I . ! dale Lin* Lowndes • ■ P< ! '• ■ A I ■ I .. • Southern portion rtion kson Entire < Laurel area S then poi .on Digitized by the Internet ai: in £[J V\ Col rea and south e> edge rtion I half ■ ■ f a ' f .on t I. I ..ght to he L.ght to he Light Li '.' ' I. H< Li '■' ' Li Li Archive ! Lighl • Li hi I !.. Lighl I Light 1 • I . . . Li it 1 • I http://archive.org/details/sstimportedOOunit NORTH CAROLINA Only two infestations were found in North Carolina, and these were discovered in nurseries in Wake and Mecklenburg Counties. SOUTH CAROLINA Two light infestations were found in South Carolina- -one in a nursery in Charleston County, near Charleston, and the other in a nursery in Orangeburg County, near Orangeburg. TENNESSEE Light infestations were found in three nursery sites in Shelby County in Memphis. A survey through the central part of the State failed to reveal any other infestations. TEXAS Infestations were found in five counties of eastern Texas. The only heavy infestation was in the Orange and Beaumont areas. County Area Infested Abundance Gregg 1 nursery at Longview Light Harris 1 nursery at Houston Light Jefferson 1 nursery at Port Arthur Light Orange 2 nurseries at Orange and 1 near Beaumont Heavy Smith 3 nurseries at Tyler Light VIRGINIA The eastern half of Virginia was surveyed, but no imported fire ants were found. DAMAGE TO AGRICULTURAL CROPS Observations were made to determine the damage by the imported fire ant to four major truck crops grown in Baldwin and Mobile Counties of Alabama. These four crops were cabbage, okra, potatoes, and broccoli. The percentage of damage to each crop varied, apparently with the availability of other foods. In 1951 approximately 400 acres of cabbage were under observation. About 5 percent of the crop was damaged, which meant a loss of about $4,000. In 1950 damage to the potato crop in the two counties was estimated to be approximately $5,000. iii iiiii mil 1 3 1262 09239 6539 t< I •s of okra under a I the nd in D These >ved '*, whi •• of stounding. . rts caused by the rough terrain 1 for r cement of n.o* most of this damage. Damage to equiprm oss in s , , he loss in land value due to the a »te number of an1 inds is estimated to be : ,000 anr.